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Binder Park Zoo Gives Back to Local Communities

In the spirit of community, Binder Park Zoo recently prepared meals that were distributed to several organizations in the area and delivered personal protection equipment (PPE) from the zoo’s vet hospital to Bronson Healthcare. Approximately 300 individually prepared meals were donated to S.A.F.E. Place of Battle Creek, United Way of Albion/Homer and Marshall House in Marshall.  The zoo also donated enough bulk food items to create an additional 400 meals to the Share Center of Battle Creek. The zoo had been gearing up to open for the season which includes readying its two restaurants on zoo grounds; Beulah’s and Kalahari Kitchen to welcome zoo visitors. “We had a pretty good inventory of food on hand, and while it would keep, we felt it could be put to better use helping out those who might be in need by the crisis caused by COVID 19.” says Brian McCorkell, General Manager of Food & Retail for Binder Park Zoo. Five different menus were developed by McCorkell, a trained chef who then prepared and packaged the meals. “Supporting our community is a privilege since they support the zoo throughout the year.” stated McCorkell. The zoo also included a quantity of plush animals from the Safari Gift Shop to distribute along with the meals for families with children.

“These meals were met with smiles as they were delivered to community members in the Albion and Homer area. It was a nice surprise to have a dinner ready to eat in these trying times”, said Marcia Starkey, Executive Director of the Albion-Homer United Way.

An assessment of the inventory at the zoo’s vet hospital by the Animal Health and Animal Care staff identified a number of items that could aid in the human healthcare PPE supply shortage.  A quantity of face shields, N95 masks, disposable gowns, surgical masks and caps, foot covers and gloves were delivered by the Zoomobile to the Bronson Battle Creek collection site on Thursday.

“It’s not unusual for zoos to receive donations of equipment and supplies from human hospitals.” said Dr. Kim Thompson, staff veterinarian at Binder Park Zoo, “Now the opposite is happening. And while it isn’t an enormous quantity, we are happy to return the favor and do what we can by donating important PPE equipment to help keep our health care professionals safe.”

Like many other organizations dealing with the emergency shut-down, Binder Park Zoo was required to suspend programs and delay its opening day as essential staff continue to work, ensuring the animals are well cared for.

“Like other organizations unable to open to the public, the zoo is in a tenuous position as well, but we have something positive that we can share right now – an inventory of food for our communities and supplies our health care providers need. To help bridge some gaps is a way we can give back and maybe, provide a bit of inspiration at the same time.” said Leslie Walsh, the zoo’s Manager of Marketing & Development.

Binder Park Zoo is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The zoo opened to the public in 1977 and will celebrate its 43rd year when they open for the season.

For more information about Binder Park Zoo, go to www.binderparkzoo.org and follow updates on Facebook.